The objective of Hazell and Yong's book is to laud a vision of multiparty rule in which the different parties in the government are bound together by a complex and tight-knit set of procedures and committee structures. These are designed both to give considerable power to civil servants and to limit the party of the prime minister. In short, the authors provide a blueprint for maximising Liberal Democrat leverage now and in the future.
The core problem of this vision is that it conflicts with notions of responsibility and democratic accountability. The stability of a coalition, according to the authors' recipe, is to be assured by a set of prolonged negotiations after an election between the party leaders; it is in these exchanges that they decide whether or not to form a governing alliance. A party may simultaneously explore different deals with different potential coalition partners.
There are two equally objectionable components of such negotiations. First, they assume that the search for a cross-party consensus entitles political leaders to abandon their election manifestos and the views they had set out to the electors only days before. A second assumption is that the agreements reached in the post-election back rooms need to be immutable in face of changing circumstances and in face of pressures from the parliamentary caucuses of the ruling parties because any effort to alter the agreement will lead to a total breakdown. But a small group of negotiators is unlikely to anticipate the technicalities, ambiguities and subtleties of all aspects of policy, much less every possible turn of events. So the lack of flexibility in coalition agreements is a real disadvantage: circumstances change.
- ONLINE ONLY: Academic Boycotts Teach Us Nothing
- ONLINE ONLY: Send in the Clowns
- ONLINE ONLY: Thatcher, Reagan and the Dictators
- The Resolute Courage of Margaret Thatcher
- America's New Isolationists Are Endangering the West
- An Alternative To Our Reckless Energy Gamble
- The Family is the Key to the Future of Faith
- Persecuted Muslims Who Love Life in England
- They Were the Future of the Tory Party, Once
- The Parable of the Stupid Samaritan
- Pope Frank: In the Footsteps of St Francis
- The Middle Kingdom's Problem with Religion
- We Abandon Christians in the East At Our Peril
- Feminism Or Islamism: Which Side Are You On?
- At Last: Gove Goes For the Culture of Excuses
- Is There a Way Out of the Tories' Modernising Mess?
- Online Only: The Kenyatta Dilemma
- Cameron is the Euro's Best Hope for Survival
- Census That Revealed a Troubling Future
- The Servant of the servants of God Departs in Peace